Debates are defined by moments, of which there were a few tonight.
The first one: Romney’s debate performance was largely dominated by one forgettable moment. A deputy sheriff in the diner criticized Romney for comparing his sons’ campaign work to serving on the ground in Iraq. The one-liner: It was wrong, sir, and you never should’ve said it. Ouch. Slip-ups reveal something about what a candidate’s really thinking – in this case, Romney’s arrogance.
The second one. Although I think most of the stuffing has been squeezed out of the Paul punching bag, Huckabee gained a few points during his intense back-and-forth with Paul. When Paul essentially said the American people shouldn’t be burdened by the bad decisions of neo-cons in the government, Huckabee replied that we make mistakes as one country. Huckabee continued, placing honor above the Republican party’s electoral fate.
And although not defined by a single moment, there was a notable uptick in the tension between Giuliani and Romney, especially in the exchanges on immigration.
Finally, we’ll have a more detailed analysis tomorrow, but our impression is that Giuliani and McCain performed well, Huckabee in the middle, and then Romney at the back end.